Grade Six

The sixth grade is a transitional year where students begin to realize their own independence.
They take on the responsibilities and expectations of a Middle School student. They learn to be proactive in seeking academic help and advocating for themselves. They also learn what it means to be part of a community and the responsibility that comes along with this, both in and out of the classroom.


Students build a thorough understanding of fractions, decimals, and percents and the relationships among these representations of rational numbers. They develop and apply algorithms for fraction operations and review methods for finding products and quotients of decimals. In geometry, the focus is on two dimensions: students learn terminology and basic properties associated with polygons and develop formulas for area and perimeters of a variety of two-dimensional figures, including circles. Students begin to investigate the elements of algebra as they sketch and interpret qualitative graphs that describe real-world situations, and as they write and evaluate one- variable expressions, leading to the solving of simple equations.


Our science program is an integrated program for a whole year. We use themes to create a framework for understanding the connections between science disciplines. In this way, students learn that seemingly different processes, structures, or systems can be shown to have underlying similarities. Students are asked to learn science by engaging their hands and their minds. By doing science activities and analyzing their results, students learn the whys and the hows, not just the whats and whens. Ultimately, they learn to see science as a system for making sense of the world. At all times, concepts and skill development are emphasized over memorization of facts. 

  • The Importance of Water
  • Matter and Energy
  • Engineering: Design and Build
  • Planetary Science: Earth/Moon System


The sixth grade curriculum strives to instill in students a life-long love of words. Reading, writing and the study of grammar strengthen and enhance students’ appreciation of the English language and their respect for fine literature. The literature selected reflects a diversity of cultural, as well as personal, experiences. Emphasis is placed on reading strategies and an introduction to literary terms and devices required for literary analysis. With writing instruction, revision and editing are presented as important and necessary steps in the writing process. Writing skills are taught explicitly throughout the year, beginning with a review of paragraphing and organizational skills and ending with lessons on writing style and fluency. For grammar instruction, students are placed in differentiated groups based on each student’s individual needs and complete student-directed group work. Grammar instruction focuses on both parts of speech and on editing skills integral to accurate writing.

Geography and World Studies

The sixth grade geography and world cultures course strives to build geographic literacy. Students acquire a geographic vocabulary, utilize and improve map skills and gain knowledge about people and places around the world. In turn, students analyze and interpret that knowledge, and communicate their ideas in a variety of ways, including formal and creative writing, PowerPoint/Photo Story, letters, poetry, and posters. Key topics include Earth’s basic support systems, the use of resources, demographics and culture. Special area studies include Africa and India. Textbooks, news articles, Internet sources and the novels Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan and Facing the Lion by Joseph Lekuton provide source material for the course. Where possible, special projects support the annual celebration of National Geography Awareness Week.

World Languages

The study of foreign language is a key component of the Middle School curriculum. Four languages are offered to Middle School students: French, Spanish, Chinese, and Latin. All students can continue studying their chosen foreign language or begin a new language. In addition, all eighth grade students undertake a year of Latin while continuing their study of Spanish, French or Chinese. New students entering RPCS during Middle School are placed in foreign language according to their experience, ability and interest. For students new to RPCS without prior experience studying a modern language, preparation may take the form of summer study or work with a tutor followed by a placement test.

French, Grades 6 – 8:
For students who began the study of French prior to entering Middle School, French 1B (sixth grade), 2A (seventh grade), and 2B (eighth grade) continue the presentation of the fundamentals of the French language in a highly structured program. French vocabulary and idioms are presented with emphasis on developing conversational skills. The goal is to for students to be able to function comfortably in a French- speaking environment. Students will also learn how to write strong, grammatically correct sentences and paragraphs. These courses also seek to broaden the students’ cultural awareness of French-speaking nations around the world by using multiple forms of technology. Upon successful completion of this Middle School sequence, students may advance to French III at the start of ninth grade.

Spanish, Grades 6 – 8: 
For students who began the study of Spanish prior to entering Middle School, Spanish 1 (sixth grade), 2A (seventh grade), and 2B (eighth grade) continue the fundamentals of the Spanish language in a highly structured program. Spanish vocabulary and idioms are presented with an emphasis on developing conversational skills. The goal is for students to develop the skills to function comfortably in a Spanish-speaking environment. Students will learn how to write strong, grammatically correct sentences and paragraphs. These courses also seek to broaden students’ cultural awareness of various Spanish-speaking countries around the world. The texts are supplemented with technology to introduce students to the various Hispanic cultures. Students are also expected to research and create multimedia projects reflecting different aspects of learning another language and culture. Upon successful completion of this sequence, students may advance to Spanish III at the start of ninth grade.

Chinese, Grades 6 – 8: 
For students who began their study of Chinese prior to entering Middle School, Chinese 1B (sixth grade), Chinese 2A (seventh grade) and Chinese 2B (eighth grade) continue the fundamentals of the Chinese language in a highly structured program. Students will learn the structures and vocabulary necessary to communicate in Mandarin Chinese about aspects of daily life. Students will also study the customs, life and historical geography of China. It is possible for new students entering in 6th grade without previous study of Chinese to join the Chinese program at the 1B level with some summer work required. Students who successfully complete three years of Chinese in the Middle School may be eligible to enter Chinese III in the Upper School.